Ruling AKP to name headscarved candidate in upcoming local elections: PM Erdoğan

Ruling AKP to name headscarved candidate in upcoming local elections: PM Erdoğan

Ruling AKP to name headscarved candidate in upcoming local elections: PM Erdoğan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has commented the democratization package unveiled on Sept. 30 during a live interview with private broadcaster A Haber. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will likely name a headscarved female candidate in the March 2014 local elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after announcing a democratization package earlier this week that lifted a headscarf ban for women in public office.

“Yes, we will have a candidate wearing a headscarf. I cannot say how many and where, but a headscarved woman will [run for the AKP],” Erdoğan said during a live interview on private broadcaster A Haber late on Oct. 3. 

Erdoğan also responded to criticisms suggesting that the package fell short of expectations, particularly from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), underscoring that the package was directed at the whole country and not just one region.

Regarding education in citizens’ mother tongues, Erdoğan said anyone was free to establish a private school to provide education in any language chosen.

“Set up your private school and give your lessons. You can study Kurdish as an elective course in a state school. If they want sincerity, the step has been made,” he said on criticism that mother-tongue education should be given in public schools.

Further steps on Halki Seminary and cemevis

Erdoğan said the government would reopen Istanbul’s Halki Seminary as soon as Greece takes reciprocal steps on Turkey’s demands regarding the construction of mosques in Athens. 

“We will solve the Halki Seminary issue. We have discussed this frequently with Greece’s prime ministers and foreign ministers. This is something [that can be done in a moment] for us. I told them that there are two mosque projects in Athens. I asked them to give us the permission to build them,” Erdoğan said.

Regarding the question of recognizing cemevis as houses of worship, Erdoğan said there was no consensus on the matter among Alevis.

Emphasizing that more cemevis were opened under AKP rule than under any other government, Erdoğan said some movement on the demands was expected.  “Hopefully, this will be solved in a new package,” he said. 

Chinese missiles bid include technology transfer

Erdoğan also defended the choice of a Chinese firm for a long-range missile and air-defense system tender that had stirred controversy and criticism among NATO allies, stressing that the proposition involved a technology transfer.

“None of the other bids contained co-production. The duration of the production is also very important and the Chinese was the shortest, at a 50 percent scale,” Erdoğan said, also stressing that the Turkish and Chinese armies recently conducted joint military exercises.

Military service to be shortened

The prime minister also said military service would be shortened to 12 months for private soldiers. “We have an agreement on this issue with the General Staff and the Defense Ministry,” Erdoğan said, adding that the duration of military service for reserve officers would remain at six months.

No decision for running for president

Erdoğan also said neither he nor President Abdullah Gül had decided yet about running in presidential elections in August 2014. 

“We will not allow our party to be divided. We will negotiate between ourselves and take our step accordingly,” he said.